Hope in the Discussion of Climate Change

5 thoughts on “Hope in the Discussion of Climate Change”

  1. I also have been thinking about hope since one of our Skype conversations. During that conversation, you talked about people asking you if you had hope. You said that question didn’t make much sense to you. You said that if you had hope, someone could take it away. I recall a silence after that, in which I realized, and said, that if you live hope, no one can take it away.

    Since then, I have been thinking about living hope. I think there is a strength in living hope that I cannot maintain in just having hope. I remember first realizing this in 1979, at age 21, when I returned to the US after spending a year in Guatemala. I felt such mixed feelings of despair and joy and gratitude: despair at the violence in the country, the disparity between rich and poor, and the role of the US in supporting the corrupt government; joy at the memories of the beauty of the land and the people; grateful for the generosity and kindness of my Mayan neighbors in the highland community where I lived. When I returned to Eugene, I worked with a group that supported human rights movements in Latin America. I felt hope. Only when I stopped working with the group to concentrate on my studies did despair overwhelm me..

    Since then, I have always tried to live my ideals, to live hope. I have chosen a job where I can contribute to the health of others, and have joined others in volunteer activities. Our family lives simply, and works to diminish our use of the earth’s resources. We have a long way to go, but I think we are on the right path.

    At times though, like when I look at graphs of human population growth and of extinction of species, or hear of some people still refusing to acknowledge the science of climate change and even to open their eyes and see the clear evidence around them, or read of people choosing enormous personal profit over the health of the earth and wellbeing of others, I feel a deep despair, and see my actions as futile.

    But then I think of you riding your bike and writing of others living hope, and I think of Maia, communicating hope and ideals by reaching people’s souls through her art. I see that glimmer of hope again, and keep living my hope.

    It may be true that my actions are futile. The amount of greenhouse gases in the air is already causing climate change, and the projection of effects on the earth in the future is grim. The rate of species extinction is similar to that in previous mass extinctions. We are already in the sixth extinction.

    But living hope is also the way I live love. As I ride my bicycle to work in the morning, I think of you riding your bike and think of Maia painting the beauty of the earth. I think of the Cascade mountain meadows and the Oregon Coast I so love. I have no illusions that my bicycle trip makes any dent in the greenhouse gases, or that I am inspiring anyone else to ride his or her bike. Living hope is living love. I bicycle a prayer for the world. Nobody can take this hope, this love, this prayer from me. It is who I am.

    I also know that I am not alone. Not only are you, Maia and other family members living hope, but also thousands in our community. They are recycling, changing laws on pesticide spraying, improving education for all children, serving breakfast to the homeless, building homes for those without, trying to interrupt cycles of abuse, neglect and discrimination. And now I know there are people in Hong Kong, Jishou, Guangzhou and Hanoi who live their ideals as well. There are so many in the world. Communicating lives of hope helps keep that hope alive. Keep it up.

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  2. For some reason, this reminded me of a video of Wendell Berry that I saw last winter. In it he said many wise things, but one in particular stuck with me. He was speaking of the environmental mess that we as a species have gotten ourselves into. He also spoke of how so many seem to be looking for The Big Solution. And when their proposed big solution causes its own set of problems they are so surprised. No, he said: there is not one solution to the world’s problems. If we are to get out of this mess, it’s going to take many small solutions, from many people and many groups. You’re on an amazing odyssey that’s one of the many solutions that are happening around the world. Good going.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I agree. It seems to me that the best solutions match their corresponding problems in size and scope. I hope that having the internet in the picture can help increase the visibility of smaller projects and make them more viable.

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